Why Carphone Should Throw Tiscali TV’s Lot In With Canvas

New Tiscali owner Carphone Warehouse is considering whether to turn the underperforming Tiscali TV IPTV service in to a Project Canvas service or continue going it alone. Carphone CEO Charles Dunstone tells FT.com: “We might say Canvas isn’t the answer and we will go and reinvigorate Tiscali TV.” Either way, Carphone won’t switch off Tiscali’s UK TV service as its Italian parent recently did.

There are many reasons why Carphone should abandon Tiscali TV, which it rebranded after acquiring the London IPTV offering Homechoice in 2006, in its current form…

— It has just 50,000 customers, FT.com says.
— Ofcom actually reports Q1 customers at 100,000 – but that’s still just 0.4 percent of UK homes – and just 0.2 percent more than last year.
— IPTV (lounge TV over broadband from telcos) has skyrocketed in countries like France, but the UK has two dominant pay-TV providers in Sky and Virgin Media.
— Against that backdrop, other telcos have failed in their UK IPTV ambitions – Orange and O2 have both pulled back on earlier promises.
— BT (NYSE: BT) Vision is the only one making a go of IPTV, now with 500,000 subscribers – but it’s a hybrid model, with live TV delivered through a Freeview aerial and broadband used just for VOD and interactive.
— BBC-led Project Canvas would appear to create a carrier-agnostic gateway to a host of approved services and rights, making it easier for Tiscali to win access to quality content.
— Carphone should ensure Tiscali is merely the pipe through to an IPTV service that trickles down from Canvas. Only problem: few people – even, it seems, the BBC – really know what Canvas is yet…